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Brent Holds on to Record Gains, Treading Water Above $60

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10/30/2017 | 12:41pm CET
By Christopher Alessi 

LONDON--Brent crude held steady above $60 a barrel Monday, after breaching the milestone in a record session Friday.

Brent, the global benchmark, was up 0.12%, at $60.51 a barrel on London's Intercontinental Exchange. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures were down 0.13% at $53.83 a barrel.

"It's probably as close to as good as it gets," said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank. "Overall, there is a renewed and quite strong investor appetite for oil."

Brent on Friday topped the elusive $60-a-barrel threshold for the first time in over two years amid renewed optimism that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue to rein in output and rebalance the market.

"Growing confidence that OPEC members will extend production cuts through 2018 has been supportive," said Dutch bank ING Groep.

Analysts at consultancy JBC Energy said the "current uptick can to a certain extend be attributed to further Saudi and Russian support for extending the supply cut."

Over the weekend, Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, reiterated his commitment to extending OPEC's production cut agreement with Russia until the end of 2018, after the deal expires in March.

OPEC--of which Saudi Arabia is the largest member--and some other major producers like Russia first agreed late last year to cap their production at around 1.8 million barrels a day lower than peak October 2016 levels, with the aim of alleviating global oversupply and boosting prices.

Prices have also been supported by a renewed risk of supply disruptions, in part because of a conflict in Iraq's oil-rich, semi-autonomous Kurdish region. The Kurds voted nearly unanimously late in September to break away from Iraq in a controversial independence referendum, escalating tensions with the country's central government and halting some oil shipments.

Saxo's Mr. Hansen cautioned that the rally could be short-lived if it motivates U.S. shale oil producers to further increase production.

Investors are looking ahead this week to a potential decision on a new chairman for the Federal Reserve, which could have implications for the dollar and by extension, oil prices.

Among refined products, Nymex reformulated gasoline blendstock--the benchmark gasoline contract--was down 0.15%, at $1.71 a gallon. ICE gasoil, a benchmark for diesel fuel, changed hands at $544.75 a metric ton, up 0.14% from the previous settlement.

Write to Christopher Alessi at [email protected]

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